Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan Says He's Fine With Split From Obama On Gay Marriage
WASHINGTON -- Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said Wednesday that his public support for gay marriage has not put him in an awkward position with President Barack Obama, who only supports civil unions.
Donovan made news in November when he told Metro Weekly, a gay and lesbian new magazine in Washington, D.C., that he "absolutely" supports marriage equality and that the administration has more work to do in advancing the issue in Obama's second term. His announcement made him the first, and only, sitting cabinet secretary to endorse same-sex marriage.
The Huffington Post caught up with Donovan at a U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting, at which the secretary spoke, and asked what prompted him to declare his support for the issue, particularly since it is out of step with his boss.
"For me personally, it wasn't a change [of opinion] at all," he said. "It's something I've been consistently supportive of. It's a personal expression of my personal belief."
Asked if his endorsement of gay marriage has created an awkward situation between him and Obama, who has been saying for more than a year that he is still "evolving" on the issue, Donovan replied, "Nope." He demurred when asked whether he has talked to the president about his views.
A White House spokesman declined to comment on the housing secretary's position.
HUD spokesman Neill Coleman said Donovan's support for same-sex marriage is in line with his support for gay rights in general. Last April, HUD launched a media campaign, "Live Free," aimed at ensuring that people have equal access to housing, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.
"The secretary has been very consistent in LGBT rights for a long time," Coleman said.